I have always been a fan of The Jam. The Style Council, not so much. I mean, I do have an extremely rare edition of The Beat Surrender single (which I won't part with so don't bother asking) but apart from this, I wasn't into the band.
Having said this, Mr Weller's voice is so distinctive, I couldn't help but like what he did when I heard it. Yet somehow, I missed a lot of his output in the intervening years. Thankfully, Mine didn't. I firmly believe she would leave me at the drop of a hat if Paul wanted her. Makes me grateful he lives on the other side of the world and doesn't like flying.
I had the distinct pleasure of seeing him perform live last year (probably my gig of the year, truth be told). What a showman he is and what a band he has supporting him. The passion he evokes was evidenced by the audience reaction and in the cross-section of ages at the concert. He really is a multi-generational artist. I know there were parents and children at the show, equally as entranced by him.
Part of me feels remiss that I've spent so many years not listening to him, particularly now I've become familiar with this album. For instance, I can't get the song Wildwood out of my head. It's a superbly understated piece of brilliant guitar rock and almost brings me to tears with every listen. Then there's Sunflower, a song whose title I thought would imply some sort of hippy ode but instead turns out to be anything but. The ageless sound of Can You Heal Us (Holyman) and the turned upside-down reprise are simply wonderful as is All The Pictures On The Wall. If you've not experienced any of Mr Weller's output and you consider yourself a fan of good music, then I can't recommend this album highly enough.
I'm now off to listen to Stanley Road. I don't believe it can be any better than this but I'm prepared to be wrong.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
My hero, my inspiration, the musician I've most closely followed through my life, and hasn't he kept his looks??!! (He's another one on my list). This was his second solo album after the Style Council split, but I've been a fan since The Jam. Yes, I was a mod (She's a mod, she's a mod, yeah, yeah yeah) and my love for the Modfather continues.
Here's the deal. In 1985 I was living in Bendigo, a small town inland from Melbourne, Australia, with my first husband. I was unemployed and broke, and the Style Council were playing in Melbourne on my birthday. I hinted like anything that all I really wanted for my birthday was to see them, and that weekend we packed up the car for what my then-husband said would be "a weekend waterskiing with his friends". "Ha ha" I thought, "this is just to make the special occasion even more special". But then we took another road, and - guess what? We spent the weekend waterskiing.
Furious, I promised myself I'd catch the Style Council the next time they toured. They broke up. Then I learned Mr Weller isn't fond of flying, and I had to wait 26 years to see him. To ensure I fully enjoyed the experience I saw him twice - once in Sydney (with YourZ), where we live now, and then flying more than 700 kilometres (about 450 miles) to see him in Brisbane by myself. Scored the set list from that concert, which now has pride of place on our fridge. However, I'm not the only person I know who flew silly distances for him. My ex, who I introduced to PW many years ago, flew more than 4,000 kilometres (about 2,500 miles) from Broome to Adelaide for the same experience.
So trying to give my opinion on Wild Wood is a bit difficult. I think it's a great album - not as good as Stanley Road, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. In my opinion, it's better than his latest, 22 Dreams, which I'm not as keen on as he is. I felt it was a bit MOR, to be frank. But I can listen to Wild Wood any day, in any mood, especially for Sunflower and Wild Wood. In fact the worst Paul Weller album will always be better than some of the best albums from other artists, because his voice sings in my heart, and it always will.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information: http://www.paulweller.com/
In our collection, we also have Stanley Road, 22 Dreams, Days Of Speed, Heliocentric, Heavy Soul and Paul Weller